ISTANBUL -- Turkish state-run television TRT reported Thursday that a Syrian passenger plane intercepted by Turkey's air force was carrying military communications equipment, as Damascus branded the incident piracy amid growing tensions between the two countries.
Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the Turkish government, reported there were 10 containers aboard the plane, some containing radio receivers, antennas and "equipment that are thought to be missile parts."
Neither TRT nor the newspaper cited sources for their reports, and Turkish officials have yet to provide details on what was aboard the Syrian Air A320 from Moscow that was forced to land in Ankara on Wednesday.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the cargo contained "elements ... that are not legitimate in civilian flights" and insisted Ankara was within its rights to intercept the plane if it suspected that military equipment was being transported over Turkish territory.
But Syrian Transportation Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Said said Thursday that Turkey's decision to force the plane to land amounted to piracy.
The general manager of the Syrian Civil Aviation Agency also blasted Turkey's forced landing of the plane, calling it "contrary to regulations and aviation norms."
Ghaidaa Abdul-Latif told reporters in Damascus that the plane's pilots were not asked to land but were instead surprised by Turkish F-16 fighter jets, which forced them to land.
"This action is contrary to the rules, because the pilot should be first asked to land for inspection," she said. "If he refuses, military jets would then fly to force him to land."
A Syrian Airlines engineer who was aboard, Haithan Kasser, said armed Turkish officials boarded the plane and handcuffed the crew before inspecting packages that contained electrical equipment.
Abdul-Latif said the officials seized some packages after presenting official documents.
She said Syria would file a complaint with international aviation authorities.